Vinson & Elkins bulks up Middle East

Vinson & Elkins has underscored its dedication to its United Arab Emirates strategy by relocating key partners to the region.

The US firm, which has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has relocated Texas-based capital markets partner Jim Knight to its Dubai office and corporate partner Creighton Smith to the firm’s Abu Dhabi office which launched in November last year.

Smith said: “The firm has very good coverage of the US and we have been in London for 25 years. The UAE has a lot of potential for the firm and we want to be sure we have the right capabilities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”

New York corporate counsel Hessem Kalantar has joined Knight in the Dubai office to help bulk up the firm’s corporate capabilities there. Vinson & Elkins snared Kalantar from Paul Hastings earlier this year.

Vinson & Elkins is the latest US firm to embark on a strategic push in the Middle East. Earlier this year (18 February ) The Lawyer reported on Latham & Watkins launching offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar simultaneously.

Vinson & Elkins now has six partners based permanently in the region. The firm hopes to increase presence to 25 lawyers by the end of the year.